Adventures of a Carry-on 2012 Highlights

Ok, I admit I’m feeling the pressure. It’s New Year’s Eve (day), the last day of the year-and I haven’t written a post in a week or more. Worse, I haven’t written a retrospective letter or post about 2012. Nor have I posted a photo essay or favorite photo of 2012. Nothing, nichts, zip, zilch, nada.

Is it wrong not to acknowledge the end of one year and the beginning of another? Is this day more special because it’s the last day? Or perhaps we all just need one more reason to throw down, get our party on and relax a little?

Have I nothing to say? What about the people who follow my blog? Will they be disappointed? I was raised in the south, where women are taught to always be polite and kind. Shouldn’t I at least say thank you? I’ve always placed a lot of importance in being proper and socially correct.

As I ruminated over what I thought would make an interesting final post for 2012, I received a message in my Inbox from WordPress. Those kind folks working behind the scenes sent me an annual report – year of blogging on WordPress. ( Really it’s only been nine months.) At first glance it wasn’t anything to “write home about” as the saying goes. I didn’t have 6000 page views per day. Nor do I have 6000 followers. What I do have is a small but loyal following of people who I don’t know but appear to be genuine, and the numbers are growing. Still, I am fortified by the words of my friend and mentor, Jessie Voights who said, “You’re still building it. You can do it!” God bless Jessie.

The truth is, one of the best things that I did in 2012 was moving my blog to WordPress. Not only did I find community and a platform for my words and photographs, I also made some new friends, and I discovered that I could actually build a blog all on my own. I made a lot of mistakes, and I still have a lot to learn, but “I can do it!”

I did learn a couple of things from the review, though.

There were several stories that people liked enough to leave comments, and tweet and click the like button. One in particular, Travel and Self Exploration, was the all time most liked post of the year. And there was a photograph from the Florida Everglades that I posted for a “weekly photo challenge” which received more likes than others.

The story, Travel and Self Exploration, was one of my favorites. One of the reasons it is close to my heart, is the way it happened. It was easy. I was “in the moment.” I didn’t have to think about it and it was fast too…wrote that one in about twenty minutes. I am not normally a fast writer. Also, I love the photo that inspired it. It was the catalyst for many more memorable (for me) photographs that followed.

So in the spirit of “Best of 2012,” I’m going to repost the photograph and a link to the story, and the photograph from the photo challenge. And I really would love to hear you comments and see your “likes.”

weekly photo challenge

weekly photo challenge

Thank you to all the bloggers out there who have inspired me with you posts, encouraged me with your likes and comments, and shared your beautiful stories and photographs. Thank you for the world of ideas on the world wide web.
Please share with me what you’d like to see or read in the new year.
May you have the best year ever and see you in 2013!

Read the story:
Travel and Self Exploration

 ©penny's purple socks photo pennysadler 2012

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012. All rights reserved.

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My Inner Italy, by Amy Bloom

A friend and fellow blogger sent me a the weekly newsletter from Gourmet Magazine. This week’s feature is Italian food and cooking.
As I was looking through the newsletter, a title at the bottom of the page caught my eye: My Inner Italy. I have a huge crush on Italy, as anyone reading my blog knows, and this title grabbed me. The rest of the story lived up to the title. It did everything a story should. I was captive to the words, and wanted more when I was done. I felt as though, just maybe, I have more than a little in common with the author.

I, too, grew up with Italian neighbor, who cooked pasta for me. Apparently, I was anemic as a child, and that was the only thing I would eat. Unfortunately I don’t recall her name, but I will be contacting my brother soon to ask him, as he is old enough to remember. I do remember her incredible pasta.

My family was not Catholic, but I often went to mass with my Catholic friends – another thing I have in common with this woman.

She said Italy is heaven on earth and I have to agree. I hope you enjoy this short story, obviously written from the heart, but with fun and wry humour too.

Here’s the first paragraph – My Inner Italy

1959 I have just really started noticing the world around me, my neighborhood, my town, the sea in which I swim. I notice that no one minds where or what I read as long as I am not in my father’s chair or my parents’ bed, that my father’s cigar smoking is something everyone complains about but no one can stop, that my grandmother is the smallest adult person I know and smells like her own kitchen (schmaltz, boiled chicken, rye bread, and schnapps) and my mother is tall and glamorous and smells like Ma Griffe, a cloud of sultry flowery scent that still gets my attention, 50 years later. In her wish to get away from the boiled chicken, boiled flanken, boiled potatoes (rolled in schmaltz, hold the parsley) of her parents, my mother embraced the time- and energy-saving foods of the New World. If there is a stronger word than embrace, imagine it here. My mother was a mediocre cook, not only from lack of talent but also from a furious lack of inclination (as I came to understand). I remember one celebratory dinner of incinerated lamb chops, Stouffer’s frozen corn soufflé, Del Monte canned green beans with Durkee French onion rings crumbled on top, and a Sara Lee cheesecake, barely defrosted, with a couple of spoonfuls of Cool Whip ladled over it; that was as good as it got. My mother liked entertaining; she was brilliant with improvised hors d’oeuvres, charades, and fruity drinks—she just hated housewifery—and I think now, “Who can blame her?”

Read the rest of the story.
2000s Archive: Gourmet.com.

Roman Holiday

I had not seen the film, Roman Holiday, in many years. In fact, I’d forgotten the entire middle part of the movie – the fun parts where Gregory Peck is taking Audrey Hepburn around Rome, to do all the things she’s always wanted to do…stereotypical things one does as a tourist in Rome; ride on a scooter, eat gelato on the Spanish Steps, have an apertivo in a cafe on a pretty piazza, dance along the river, and put your hand in the Bocca della Verita.

Watching the movie, I remembered doing all of those things too. Well, I’ve never put my hand in the Bocca della Verita, a very popular tourist attraction. It just seems like something more fun to do with a friend or two.

The first time I went to Rome, this lovely Roman man I knew, arranged for a friend of his, a nice young Romanian fellow, to show me around on his scooter. Why didn’t the Roman take me around you ask? The Roman guy was married. Anyway, that’s another story.
So I did have my own Roman Holiday, minus the romance.
That was ok with me, I fell in love with Rome.

Trintia dei Monti at the Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy ©pennysadler 2012

Enjoying a gelato or an apertivo, climbing the Spanish Steps, and wandering around the Colosseum, are some of the tourist experiences a holiday in Italy is made of, and good enough reasons to go to Rome. For if ever there was a city or place that is perfect for a temporary escape from reality, it is Rome.

I read an editorial recently about the way movies, such as Roman Holiday, trivialize Rome, and do not depict what’s real or even interesting about the city. In fact, my interpretation of the article is that the author thinks that all of those tourist things are quite boring, and only someone in a coma would find them interesting.

I’ve often wondered if I lived in Rome, (I think of living in Rome about a hundred times per day), would it lose its’ charm? Have I been hypnotized by a Hollywood vision of Rome? Do I return there, time after time, only to see with a tourist’s eyes? Would I move to Rome and discover I’d made a huge mistake?

The Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy ©pennysadler 2012

There is something about Rome. I don’t know if it’s in the air…something invisible that seeps into your mind and takes hold very subtly, until one day you realize that you love this place and you don’t know how it happened.

Certainly the raw beauty of the city is enough to make even the most worldly traveler take notice. I’m a sucker for beauty. If it’s different and visually arresting, I’m a goner. Probably Rome had me from minute one, just on looks alone.

early morning near Piazza Venezia ©pennysadler 2012

Palazzo Barbarini Rome, Italy ©pennysadler 2012

But it’s more than that. Romans are so lively and passionate. They can seem intimidating at first, but I have found Romans to be some of the friendliest and most helpful people anywhere. It’s hard to imagine that they are the descendants of people who screamed for blood, as Gladiators and animals met for battle to the death, in the Colosseum.

No, I don’t think moving to Rome would be a mistake at all. Instead, I think I would find new things to love about Rome. I’d enjoy watching the tourists eating gelatos on their rented Vespas. And I’ll remember when I was once one of them.

The Coloseum at night ©pennysadler 2012

All content ©pennysadler 2012 – 2013. All rights reserved.

The Man in the Hat

You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” To me, this picture is worth much more than a thousand words. It’s a travel memory and a reminder of the many reasons I love to travel: inspiration, a change of scenery, local color and culture, sharing ideas and meeting new people. Sometimes just a smile and a friendly face can make your whole day when you are traveling.

I took this photograph at the Mercado of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The mercado was part of the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Santa Barbara activities, and had a more local vibe. There were lots of food booths and games for the kids, Loteria and coin tossing and music.

I saw this man sitting with a large group of his friends and family . Honestly, I didn’t really see the people around him, he had such a strong look and spirit my eyes focused only on him.  I am a professional makeup artist and hairstylist, I notice details: colors, bone structure, hair, wardrobe; anything unique or exotic. It’s just what I do.  I wanted to take his photograph but I was a little shy to approach him as he was surrounded by so many people.

I complimented him on his hat, which I loved – not a typical sombrero, it was smaller, made of a whiter straw and had a simple but nice contrasting trim. What I really liked about him, he had  a definite ethnic look and it was genuine.  I didn’t know what else to say, so I moved on and joined my friends in sampling some traditional Mexican food.

He was sitting not far away, and I every now and again I’d look over my shoulder just to make sure he was still there. I was afraid he’d leave before I got up the courage to ask him if I could photograph him. I guess I was looking over my shoulder a lot, because it wasn’t long before one of his friends pointed at me and smiled, and the next thing I knew, he was making his way through the closely packed tables and chairs towards me.

What a relief! Even though he’s obviously a friendly guy I was glad I did not have to approach him in front of all of those other people.

He told me he’s a descendant of Emiliano Zapata, and that was the reason behind the style of his beard. I said I thought his beard was great – really an essential part of his look – and explained that I’m a professional makeup artist. I loved the contrast it created with his skin, and he said he liked that too, but his wife wasn’t fond of it. Beard or no, his personality is written all over his face and shines through his eyes.

He is a great subject for this weeks photo challenge, Free Spirit.
I hope you enjoy this portrait from my Santa Barbara vacation. Love to hear from you. Do you like to take photographs of people? How do you approach them?

All materials ©Penny Sadler 2012 please be respectful.

Everyone Loves A Parade

Every August the city of Santa Barbara hosts Old Spanish Days, a week long cultural event. Also referred to as Fiesta, one of the highlights is a fantastic equestrian parade. This was my second year to photograph the parade and I got so many great photographs I decided to do a photo essay.

I really like this particular parade. It does everything a parade should do – it’s colorful, it unites the community, it’s cultural, and everyone smiles at you. What’s not to like about a parade?

Fiesta 2011-2012 ©pennysadler

Fiesta Parade

Fiesta Santa Barbara ©pennysadler

Read more about Santa Barbara and be sure to check out my other images from Fiesta in the weekly photo challenge posts, Wrong, Fleeting Moments, Growth and Movement.

Fiesta Santa Barbara ©pennysadler

Past presidents of Fiesta

Camarillo white ponies



detail of bridle

For information on Fiesta go to Old Spanish Days – Fiesta.
Fiesta 2103 is July 31 – August 4.
I know you want to go now.

All materials ©pennysadler 2012

Movies That Inspire Travel – Against All Odds

Today while thinking about what I would write here, a song popped into my head.
The song, Against All Odds, was the title song for the film, Against All Odds. It was performed by Phil Collins, who is one of my favorite musicians. I began to think about the way that music, like a photograph, can conjure such powerful memories of time and place.

To me, the movie is all about the relationship between the main characters, played by Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward. I’ve always thought of travel as having a bit of a romantic and mysterious aura. In spite of having an outstanding cast, including James Woods, Rachel Ward, and Jeff Bridges, the movie was not Oscar material. The locations and the scenery got my attention though…the amazing turquoise water and the ancient Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza and Tuluum.

That movie motivated me to go to Cozumel and Chichen Itza.  Which poses the question, have you ever watched a film that inspired you to book a vacation or trip?  Do movies inspire you to travel?

I found this snapshot from that trip. I think it was about 1990? I was using a small film camera then, about the size of a point and shoot digital camera today. The quality is not great, but I am  amazed at how true the color of the water is. This particular shot is a classic angle that you see in tourist and travel brochures for Tuluum and the Yucatan Peninsula.

The music video has some great scenery. In fact, you’ll see the same shot of Tuluum , with Jeff Bridges in it. Sadly, he wasn’t there the day I was. The title song, performed by Phil Collins, is  probably one of the best things about the movie. Let me know if you like it as much as I do.

If you haven’t been to the Mayan ruins do you want to go? Check it out: Against All Odds.

For more movie inspiration, read my post Writing Inspiration – Letters To Juliet.

Cell phones – Italian Style

I’ve been traveling to Italy for about five years now. That’s not counting the very first trip in 1999, which would make it twelve years. Each time I visit I notice something new, and I also notice that the same things catch my attention, time- after -time. One thing I’ve consistently noticed is that Italians are always on their cellphones.

In truth, I don’t think Italians talk on their phones any more than other peoples, the difference is they are outside in the streets and cafes where they can be seen.

And that’s one of the reasons I love Italy. Life is lived outside. Families, friends, lovers, can be observed walking, talking, eating, enjoying life.
This makes Italy a great place for street photography, one of the reasons I like to travel. Always hoping to capture an image that will be memorable. An image that will forever stop time and communicates the essence of that moment. I never get tired of wandering around with my camera, sitting in a piazza or on a street corner, and photographing whatever catches my eye.


Over the years, I have created a small collection of photographs of Italian people talking on their cell phones. I wasn’t sure if I would ever do anything with them. Then I saw Alessandro Cianpanno’s blog here on WordPress. It was from him I got the idea to organize a post featuring the cellphone people.

Thanks to the nature of the web, this is happening more and more. I see a photo that someone else took and I recognize the exact spot they were standing when they took the photo. Or I get an idea what to do with some photos that previously may have ended up in the trash bin. I think it’s one of the reasons people blog. What do you think?
By the way, I don’t know why but I have no images of women talking on their phones. I thought about this when I was in Rome last. Perhaps women move faster than men?

All materials ©pennysadler2012